Daily Journal of an Assistant Language Teacher / Automatic Language Tape Recorder (ALT) in the JET Programme living  and learning in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan. More information on the JET Programme here and here.

Monday September 1st, 2003

OK I think I am ready to make the announcement. My "big news" woo hoo. I've only been working on it since about April or March. I actually mentioned it early on and then didn't say anything else about it until it became a reality. I have a tendency to start a project and then get bored and stop, or talk about a great idea and never get around to doing it. So I wanted to wait until it was final before I announced it. It's only partially final now, but I'm tired of waiting. I also have a tendency to not get to the point quickly.

I wrote a book and it will be available on Amazon.com shortly. It's currently available online from the publisher, and is being submitted to the other major bookstores. The title is Learn Japanese Verbs and Adjectives using Memory Mnemonics. I attribute that skill of learning to my Mother who constantly taught me odd ways of learning things. I later used it to learn states and capitals as well as geological periods (which I have now forgotten). So if you are slightly interested in learning Japanese, I encourage you to check it out and buy 6 copies. There are a few website addresses and I will give you both. First is directly from the publisher http://www.trafford.com/robots/03-0788.html and the other is a website I set up to promote it. I'll start promoting it more soon using Google Adwords, which is very popular, but for now, thanks to money, I am using the search engines. The site I set up is http://www.Learn-Japanese-Fast.com . I plan to write about 2 more and I'll put the details up on the site when I do. The second book is another Japanese Language book, the 3rd one is about my time and experiences here, but I plan to be here another 2 years at least so that one is a work in progress. Maybe I'll think of more as I go along. I've got some fragmented ideas, but only those two ideas for other books. If anyone is slightly interested in writing a book, please let me know and I will give you all the details on how to write it and where I published it.

Now back to the journal. Saturday we did go cave exploring and it was quite fun. Though not the place for anyone who is claustrophobic. Man some spots were tight. We went to one that was very touristy and not too back, some interesting squeeze parts and some nice formations. But it was way too expensive. It was 1,400 yen and took less than an hour to get through. The good thing was it was a tunnel more or less where you start at one end and end up at another point. There were stairs and walkways in there and I wondered how they got them in there and how bad it was for the people who went through before the walkways were put in. That would not have been fun at all.

The second place was less expensive and more for the avid spelunker. I took a video camera to the first place and got some good footage, but the second place I didn't, although I should have. We thought we were going through B course, but as it turned out someone was injured and trapped deep in the cave. So we had to stop at the end of A course and go back. This worked out great for me for a few reasons. One I wasn't prepared for B course which was knee deep in water at parts, whereas A course wasn't. So I had my thick hiking boots, which would make sense for normal mountain/cave exploring. B) I was in a semi hurry to get back by 6 if possible so I could go to the small onsen village near Fukushima and eat Gyoza with Emiko and Ayako. But if we were to go into the cave, I wouldn't have said anything and just missed it, but since we couldn't, then we were "finished" at 4 and had time to get back. We just made it back in time for me to hop on the bike and cruise to the station to meet the girls.

I met the girls and we took the local train out to Iizaka. We had to wait about 20 minutes for Koji to get there and then later another guy showed up. We walked around and found a hole-in-the-wall place that had 20 pieces for 1,000 yen, which is a good price. We got a few plates and they got some raw meat that you cook on the grill in the middle of the table. It was so tasty. Then we had a little beer and left a few hours later. I have got to go back sometime, oh I love Gyoza and it was good. Then Emiko didn't want to stop drinking so we went to Catfish for a drink although I was dog-tired and really not in the mood to drink anymore. But we had a drink and then I left.

The whole way home it was doing that little annoying rain thing. It has done that all summer and I am SOOO tired of the constant little drizzle rain. If it would just rain hard for a day, it would be finished, but it just rains a little each day and always at the wrong time. Up until the rain it was a very nice evening. The weather was great and the temperature was perfect.

I got to sleep around midnight or so, maybe later because I think I watched a DVD. I woke up around 10am on Sunday and watched a whole DVD of four episodes of Babylon 5. A new JET brought them on DVD and has me all interested in them now. I just watched one at school a minute ago, since I have no classes and nothing to do. So I watched 4 episodes, and then Liz, the girl who let me borrow them, called and asked what we were doing about Hobara. She is going there now, instead of me so I offered to take her out to the school and show her the way. I had forgotten and time was running out. So I got out of bed and met her at the station and we spent half a day in Hobara looking around. Then that night BJ had movie night and we watched "There's something about Mary". I had seen it and it was pretty good, but I thought we rushed through movie night. Like as soon as we got there we started the movie and then it was over we quickly left. Last year we took it slower and had more time to chat and meet each other.

Today I had no classes. I watched a DVD right on my computer and I really don't even care. I think I want them to say something so I can say "Well if I had a class to teach, I wouldn't have time to watch a movie.....". But no one said anything. I am getting so tired of this, but maybe I can hold out until time to renew. I'm going to hit them hard, but only with stuff that I might be able to get changed and things that aren't too whiny. I'll list them later.

So one last time for old time sake. Here is the URL to my book http://www.trafford.com/robots/03-0788.html and the other site is http://www.Learn-Japanese-Fast.com . Hopefully the search engines will pick those up and direct people over to it. I've already sent the address out to other search engines, but this site ranks decently and gets a fair Google value for certain search phrases. So please go there and check out the book. Here are a few other random phrases: Fukushima JET, JET Programme, Fukushima Prefecture. Ok, all done.

Tuesday September 2, 2003

I had the Junior High School speech contest to judge today, there's another on Thursday. It went ok today, but there were parts I hated. I didn't mind doing it because it was a waste of my time or anything selfish, but I hated the fact that I had a say in who wins and who doesn't. All these people tried so hard and they were out there wishing and hoping to win, and we were in the back deciding. We all had our biases and that made it more difficult. In the end we all agreed on the winners, and they did deserve to win, but still it was draining on the emotions.

However, they did give me ichiman for doing it, which is about $100 USD. So that was really helpful. On top of that I got a ride back with a teacher and saved another $6.  Though the drive back was painful I have ridden with a number of Japanese people and the vast majority are bad drivers. Things like stopping in the middle, the middle, of the road for various reasons. Luckily everyone does it and they all expect it and don't rear end you. But man I was going insane a few times. Once I said, "there is no traffic light here" because we just stopped at an intersection for no reason. The car behind us honked and we just sat there. No idea why. Then we stopped on the expressway so he could adjust the A/C. Just stopped dead in the lane, didn't even pull over.

Here's the funny part on that, in the course of a 30 minute drive, he switched between the A/C and open windows about 15 times. They'd be down and he'd say, "how about the A/C?" and then turn it on, though not the fan, so no air actually came out. Then it would get hot and he'd say "how about we do the windows and catch the nice summer breeze?". At one point I said "really?", because we had just been through it 5 times.

That's another thing I have to complain about. In all the cars I've been in with Japanese drivers, no one can operate their A/C. First they fiddle with the radio and say "how do I make it cold". I think, well reach down to the A/C first thing......Then they mess with the A/C and never turn it on full strength. I think if I wasn't in the car they wouldn't use it at all.

At one point we came to a crossroad and the sign said, in Japanese, straight to Fukushima, Left to Nihonmatsu, Right to Motomiya. So he said "that sign is very confusing, I don't know which way to go for Fukushima, how about right, you think?". ARE YOU KIDDING ME? It's in JAPANESE. Even I can read it. Why are we turning right when the BIG FAT arrow shows straight. So I said "maybe straight" and he says OK. Then we go right. We drive a little and he said "I think the sign is wrong, we are going to Motomiya". ARGH !!!! HULK NO LIKE. Are you joking? Why are you still allowed to drive?

I was honestly going insane. I need to add that to my list of things that drive me insane. So he drops me off at the station and I miss having a beer with Liz who had her first day at Hobara today and I wanted to get the scoop on it. I'm about to go out with Hiromi since she is moving to Australia soon. I'm so sad, but also happy, because she will come back speaking great English, albeit Aussie English so I won't understand half of what she says other than "and Bob's your uncle...". Well I should get ready now. Once more for old times sake....

In case you just tuned in, I wrote a book, available now. Please buy 6 so I can get Kodansha's attention and maybe they will buy the book from me and give me a fatty royalties check. Here is the URL to my book http://www.trafford.com/robots/03-0788.html and the other site is http://www.Learn-Japanese-Fast.com. It's about learning to remember Japanese verbs and adjectives. I had plenty of time to write it since I am a Fukushima JET teaching in a High School and never teach any classes.

[later]

I have such a crush on Hiromi and she still has a wanker boyfriend. Her BF works at a post office in a different prefecture and speaks no English. ARGH. She is beautiful, sweet, nice, funny, and speaks English. When I see her I get weak knees and my heart skips a beat. I told her a lot about that tonight since we went to dinner and then had a few drinks at my favorite bar As Soon As. Then she caught a bus back to her parents place in Horai. She is leaving for Australia later this month for 6+ months. Just my luck, I meet my soul mate and she has a boyfriend and then leaves for another country as soon as I realize it. Perfect timing as usual. ARGH. I'm going to watch another episode of Babylon 5 and then cry myself to sleep.

Thursday September 4th, 2003

Last night and this morning the weather has been so nice. BJ and I went to the public bath and it felt great, the water was 41 Celsius which is my top limit so I sat in the hot bath and then the scented bath and then went out and got an auto-foot massage. After that I drank a beer and had some edamame. Man I felt really relaxed and clean. Then last night I slept with the door open so the screen door on the balcony was closed. It's still so nice out there. I didn't sleep all that great because when there is something I MUST be at then I worry the alarm won't go off or I missed something.

In about 20 minutes I'll head out to the Fukushima JHS speech contest. I read the book and there are about 50 recitations and 20 originals, so it will be a long day. Other than the emotional rollercoaster, the other annoying thing is the ceremonies they have. There is an opening ceremony where someone officially opens it, then they talk, then they officially close the opening ceremony. Then more broken English remarks, then the speeches. Then we judge and there is a long closing ceremony, which of course involves being opened and closed and usually the winning speeches are heard again.

Better get ichiman outta this as well. It's a real drain on the emotions and such that I feel it falls outside of normal daily duties (which as of now are sitting in the teacher's room watching DVDs). Then tomorrow I go to the night school and I was told I had to be there from 1-9 on a Friday, but they sent me a fax that said I only had to be there from 4 to 7:30. So if that's the case then I might actually like it. Though I'll still have to take some days off because I have Friday plans, but at least I'll get off at 7:30. Though maybe that is just the first day schedule.

Sunday Sept 7, 2003

This is the first time I've actually had to sit and relax and make an update for a while. I've been busy since Wednesday. I made an update Thursday, but much has happened since then. That wasn't the first day schedule as mentioned above, apparently I only show up for two periods and then I leave. It would be really cool if it were the after noon school or early morning school even, but it's the late Friday night school which really blows. I am going to have to take many days off for activities already planned on Friday's. How rude of me to not think I would be in school on Friday.

The school itself is a little strange too, since it's not an independent school. It's just the 2nd and 3rd floor of part of Colette's school. They have a teacher's rooms and about 4 classrooms, and most of all, a cafeteria. I got there at 4 and sat around until 5:30. I brought some books, but next time I'll be better prepared, I'll use it as real study time. I chatted with a few students and teachers. The students don't wear uniforms and dress very interestingly. There are only 120 students total in 4 classes. I go to level 1 and 2. The level one students probably didn't go to Junior High (I don't see how) and are very slow at English. We learned basic letters and numbers. Some students didn't pass the quiz, it was strange. I did my intro and they were bored so I made it funny and they were still bored, and I even used Japanese. So I cut it short.

Then class was over and she said we have to hurry for lunch, there is only 20 minutes to get to the cafeteria, eat, and get back. So we made it there and the lunch/dinner was decent. All they had to drink was milk which I can't drink, so I asked for water. The lady said ok and brought it out later. We eat at the teacher's table and occasionally the lunchroom lady brings out more food for us. I was full and it was tasty and cheap too, only 347 yen for a full dinner. So that's a positive thing about the whole situation, I'll save money on Friday's dinner.

Then we went to 2nd period and the 2nd level. They had a little better English, but didn't care all the same. I felt really bad for them, because in Japanese society there is little tolerance for deviation. These kids have clearly deviated from the norm. For some it was obvious, for others I could see they were humiliated to be here. I felt really bad for them. During lunch some students sat alone, as I might have, and just ate. The punks and losers sat together and talked about loser things. One girl was very talkative to me before class and then really smiling at me in class. She is nice and speaks decent English. It was very much a Welcome Back Kotter type class. I rather enjoyed teaching at night though, excluding it being Friday night.

Then class was over and I sat in the teacher's room until 8pm when I left. During that wait my supervisor at the school told me they cannot serve water in the cafeteria. I was quite surprised and I showed it too, I didn't ask for a chilled Frappuccino, just take a cup and turn on the faucet. But no, they can't do that. It's unacceptable, how rude and inconsiderate of me to ask. So next week, I'll bring my own water. I wonder if they will have a problem with that. My supervisor seemed to over react to a  few things as well. Like I told her I had a few obligations on Friday evenings and might have to miss an occasional class, and she said ok. Then I said I was planning on taking a few trips and I would have to leave Friday morning, and she acted overly surprised. I rethought about what I said and decided I said what I meant, but she was still acting like I said I am never coming back. There were a few other times where she over reacted.

Then I left and quickly rode to the station to meet Edith, since we had a welcome party for her planned that night at 8:30. She arrives on the 8:20 train and we walk back to the area, and then wait on the others. Due to a fortunate mix up, about 7 extra people were there so she got to meet more than expected. After we drank and ate at the Okinawan place again, we broke off and went to Catfish for a nijikai. We drank here for a few more hours and then left. It was about 2am by now and we had to be back up at 10am for my school festival.

I took the video camera after charging it for 12 hours and it said the battery was dead, so I don't get it, typical. I just took still pics instead. I'll upload them when I get them developed. the festival was overwhelming as usual with hundreds of kids dressed crazy and screaming at everyone to go to their room and see what they prepared. We went to a few. Some were ok, others were silly, one was really cool. It was a shadow movie, where they used an overhead projector, but it was really entertaining, even though it was all in Japanese. It was surreal at parts and very simple, but very interesting. We could understand it easily, though I can't explain what it's about now. Then we left and decided on Indian Food. There were 7 of us so we had to wait about 20 minutes, while people ate and then chatted and smoked. But it was worth it, the food there is always good.

We spent a few hours there since there were so many of us. After that we all went to the station, but we got separated from Amanda and Colette somehow, maybe since I had Edith ride my bike and I chose to walk. So we all went to the International food store on the West side of the station and they bought some stuff. I mainly looked, but I stocked up on Carrot juice, which I am chugging now. Then Colette called and wondered where we were so I went back over and met her. I helped her reserve a round trip shink ticket for next week. I don't think I'd ever reserve a ticket this far in advance, so many things could change. Especially not a return ticket. I usually get that when I am ready to leave, there are trains every 20 minutes from Tokyo station, maybe even more often. But she really wanted to reserve it now so I helped her.

Then we went back to another travel agent to ask about something. She is going to New Zealand over the winter break and I want to go to Thailand, but I would have to start saving now since money is always so tight. But the good news is I might be above the bar this month on money. All my utilities are paid and I still have 3 man in the bank (around $300). But that has to cover everything for two weeks. Seems like more than enough, but things are super expensive here, and I have to travel a few times to different schools and really reduce any social events. Man I am still bitter about ESID, why do some JETs have no rent and others have full rent? That really burns me up. If we all had rent, I'd be fine, but some people have huge apartments close to MY SCHOOL and the middle of town and the station, and no rent. But I have a tiny apartment far from my school and I have to pay rent.

I've developed a plan to pay off my bills early, I'm going to request a delay on three loans and take that money plus anything else I can spare and send it to the credit card companies. That should allow me to pay them off in 6-8 months. Then I can pay my other three as usual for a few months to save some money here, and then start doubling up on them and get them down. the credit cards are the bulk of my problem now, and I admit they are all my fault. I wouldn't have done JET if they had told me I had to pay rent up front. They said I was a prefectural ALT in Fukushima, so I contact my friends here and they said they had no rent and big houses and great situations. So I signed the statement of agreement. Later I put in my notice at my job. After that I was told I had 5 man (50,000 yen) rent. Ouch, I can't really afford that and sending money back but I'll still try it. Then I get here only to find out I also owe the school for a loan that I semi-agreed to pay my predecessor. But I later found out he sold me things that the school had paid for and over charged me for others. So my first year was, very thrifty, to say the least. That's even with a little help on the side, which I may or may not have.....

Sorry for the tangent, again. So after the Colette thing I went home for a short nap. I ended up sleeping until 7:15 and I was meeting someone at 6:50. So they called, and I said I was on the way. I rode my bike as fast as I could and found them near Paseo at this really cool restaurant. It's got no sign, it's just a door. We go in and walk up the stairs and it was this really cool dimly lit place. I want to go there again. We had a 2 hour course set, which is free drinks and select food. The food was well worth it, and the drinks were a bonus. It was a going away party for Izumi. She is moving to Mongolia in April, but has training and Mongolian language classes in Tokyo until then. I'm glad Emiko planned this, because Izumi used to hang out with Corrinn and now that she is gone, I was afraid we would lose touch with her. It would be sad for her to go away and have no party. There were five of us there and I think she really enjoyed it. They went on  to a second party after that, Emiko is such a strong drinker. Emiko is the girl who I think has a beautiful face, especially with her hair down. But she has some Korean boyfriend and is moving to Korea in the Spring or sometime. Megumi was there who speaks great English and is really cute, and has a Hawaiian boyfriend.

So then I came home and slept about 12 hours. I was so tired. Today I have to stay in and get caught up on so much backlogged stuff. I have AJET, FuJET, class stuff, other projects, and something else to work on. So I will be on the computer almost all day. But it feels good to get caught up on things.

Monday, September 8, 2003

This might surprise you, but there are apparently no classes this week. They have to recoup from the festival and start taking everything down. So I get to come in today, Wednesday, and Thursday and do nothing, as I have for a few months. A teacher told me he had plans for me to teach with him on Wednesdays and Thursdays, but that has yet to come into fruition. So I just sit and type or work on my AJET website or study Japanese, but you can only do those things so many times and for so long until you want to pull your hair out. I have a ton of e-Books I downloaded so maybe I'll start reading them. I found all sorts of random ones that were worth downloading, but chances are I'll never get around to reading them. Books by Einstein and Hawking and other scientists that seem interesting, and cool to have, but probably won't make good Sunday morning reading.

Apparently today is a dress down day, another thing  wasn't told. That's the JET motto more or less, "Oh I didn't know, no one told me". Often it's annoying, but occasionally it's in my favor. More often than not, it's just annoying. I figured it was so I dressed casual nice, with my golf shirt untucked. I'd rather have not come in or come in late. What is the point in me getting here at 8:30 sharp and leaving at 4:15 only to sit and do nothing? Some type of Japanese logic I suppose. I don't mind doing my job, but when there is no job to do, why is it imperative that I be here, and on time no less.

Tomorrow I go to Adachi, which I am actually liking more than Higashi. Although there is one class that was my favorite and I think they only meet on Friday. It's a special class where they split in two and another class joins them and somehow there are only 10 students, which allows them to talk more. They are all really cool and I enjoy going there, so I will possibly go there on Friday mornings on my own money and time to see them. Maybe once a month or so, we'll see. I'll have to make it a special trip and bring them treats and stuff. But I will make them do things for me as well, like write me a letter in English or draw my face or something.

They are my favorite class now, partially because their teacher is really cute and speaks great slang English. I've mentioned her before. I can't get the scoop on her, even though she has mentioned she would rather live in the US than Japan, and her father or parents speak English. I kept prompting her with boyfriend questions in a round about way and then someone comes over and distracts us. I'll invite her out with my friends for a night of English and drinking and maybe get the scoop then. It always takes her a week or so to reply to keitai email, which is odd. If I don't reply within 15 minutes, then I feel bad. Such is life.

Oh what a hard life I have as a Fukushima JET, woo is me. It's not that I don't want to come to work, I mean I had to work 12 hours a day at my last job, it's just that there are so many days when there is nothing to do, at least at my old job they would find busy work. But here there is nothing. I just come in and sit and do nothing. Somehow, being here doing nothing is not wasteful, but going out exploring Japan and learning about a new culture is wasteful. Japanese logic, gotta love it. Although there are many other Fukushima ALT friends who have a worse situation. One girl can't read anything in her teacher's room, other than Japanese books. No newspapers or books. Many students can't take vacation leave when there are classes, which really defeats the purpose. I don't put up with certain things, there is NO WAY I would sit in the teacher's room and have someone say I can't read a book. I would just say "OK" and then start reading. That has got to be the absolute silliest thing in the world. Yet they wonder why no ALT has ever stayed more than 2 years. NEVER in 15 years has one stayed longer than 2 years, and they can't figure out why. Certain rules I disagree with, but can see the reason why, others are just flat out STUPID and I say so. Luckily I don't have that many stupid rules here, but there are a few. When they come about I just comment, "Well that's stupid". If one is really off the wall I push it, but that's rare.

Notice how I seamlessly worked the phrase Fukushima JET in the above paragraph? I did it again in this sentence. I've explained it before but basically it helps add verity to the site when people search for things. If someone searches for Fukushima ALT, then a major search engine like Google will search its db and find that my site has that phrase 154 times and I'll get a high ranking. So by cheating verity, I am adding verity. Wish that logic worked in Vegas. I noticed I never mention that phrase in my journal so it wasn't getting picked up by the engines. Now I put it at the top and scattered throughout each page. I'll cut down on it since I think it is getting annoying.

So a Georgia friend, Shawn (a girl), is planning a trip to Thailand this winter break and I might be able to afford it. The flight should be around 6 or 7 man which means I can save 3.5 man each paycheck (no problem now) and then use the paycheck right before we go for spending money. I might be able to afford it. I really want to go and I even know someone in Bangkok ( a Thai girl, rather cute too). So I would be able to visit her. I haven't seen her in, dang almost 7 years. It seems so recent, but it was 96 or 97 that I last saw her in Statesboro, Georgia, at my school, Georgia Southern. Anyway, hopefully we'd spend time in Bangkok and then maybe Pattaya or Phucket (pronounced Pooh-ket (I think) ).  I think I am going to walk around and help students disassemble things.

[later]

I just read something online and now I am livid, steaming mad, PISSED OFF. At one time I had about 300-900 shares of my old company's stock, Interland. It was always hovering around $2 and then it dropped down to .68 cents and I bought some. Then I was really HARDCORE broke and had to sell some stocks. So I sold a lot of it. NOW IT IS AT $10. ARGH !!!!!! If I had 900 shares at .68 cents and it went up to $10, I would be loaded, BUT NO !!! I HAVE TO PAY RENT, I am ALWAYS BROKE. That's it. I am getting a art-pay ime-tay ob-jay. That was pig Latin. I am tired of being broke. THIS SUCKS.

[later still]

I'm going to have a stroke. Most likely today or tomorrow. I am having the worst day ever, and it keeps coming at me full steam. I went to the local super market to get some brunch since I was hungry. I found some nice veggie type things and some sushi and then tomato juice. I take it to the cashier and it costs 1,001 with tax. I realize I only have 1,000 yen and fumble around for a yen. Nope, nothing, just the 1,000 yen bill. So I say I don't have a yen and she asked if I had another bill or something and I said that's all I have. So then she looks at me and the food and asks what I want to put back. I conclude if I fumble and act indecisive for a minute maybe she'll say don't worry about it. Nope.

Then she calls over her manager and asks what they can do. Remember it is ONE YEN. An online conversion shows one yen as equaling 0.00852420 USD. 8/10ths of 1 US cent. They chat about this for a minute and act concerned and then look at my food, at this time I really couldn't decide what I wanted to put back. But it was more the principle of the whole thing. So then I try one more ploy of telling them to put them all back and I will leave. She said there's nothing they can do. Here's a random thought:

LET IT SLIDE, IT'S ONLY ONE YEN !!

Nope. Didn't happen. I had to have her put it off to the side and walk all the way back to the school to get ONE YEN. I guess you could say there is something to be admired in demanding perfection in the money, I know we were allowed a little leeway in the drawers in the US, but one yen is really a bit silly. So I started walking back and passed a teacher and she loaned me a yen and I explained it to her and she laughed and said they should have given it to you. Inflexible is the word that keeps popping up while I'm here. Inflexibility. I'm willing to bend to adapt to a new culture, but the new culture never seems to bend back.

We got in a big discussion one time about overtime versus leaving early. If I stay late, that's ok if I am helping a student. If I ask to leave one hour early on one day, I have to take one hour of vacation time. How about the hour over I stayed helping the speech contest students? I never asked for overtime, but I guess I should have. Inflexibility. Must obey rules. Cannot deviate from rules. Must obey. Warning Will Robinson. Danger Danger. Does Not Compute.

Speaking of Will Robinson, do you remember the 60's Sci-Fi show, Lost in Space? With the robot who would always freak out and wave his arms and say "Warning Will Robinson, Danger Danger". Here is a pic to jog your memory:

Well I noticed Will Robinson, aka Bill Mumy, in a Sci-Fi show I've been watching called Babylon 5. No big deal, he's a good actor and continued acting after LIS. However, what I didn't realize is he was a co-writer in the strange 80's song "Fish heads Fish heads, roly poly fish heads, fish heads fish heads eat them up, yum". Real classic 80's song, but apparently he either wrote it, co-wrote it, or has nothing to do with it whatsoever. But I think he wrote part of it. That's nice trivia for you. I'm trying to get Liz to buy season 3 of Babylon 5 because I am addicted to it now. There are only 5 seasons and the other two should be out within 6 months or so. Maybe I'll buy the series as well. But not likely.

Ok, I feel a little better now. I've cooled down a bit. Still stuck here at school but might be playing volleyball tonight and that should help me cool off more. I'll dive for some balls and hit the ground and that will rough me up.

Tuesday September 9, 2003

It's amazing how things spin around and balance out. Yesterday was a really lousy day, and I didn't even mention a few things, but today my tax lady emailed and said I get a fat refund. We do taxes later than April because we get a credit for living abroad. Granted I did them later than normal, but that was because I was broke. So I am going to be smart for once and put that money directly toward something, like a trip or a bill. Not going to fritter it away. Is fritter really a word? I just typed it and spell check liked it, but it sounds strange. Well anyway, I'm not going to fritter or spend or anything wasteful.

It's 7am Tuesday which means it's 6pm Monday back on the US East Coast. I am getting ready for Adachi, which is my far traveling school, but my favorite of the three. Nice teachers, 3 actual classes, and a fun time. I plan to study kanji and get caught up on things. Not sure if there are classes tomorrow or not at Higashi, though a teacher did approach me about doing some. Then Friday is the night school with the kids who couldn't care less about me. I always say could care less, but that's wrong. That means you DO care and there is space for you to care less. So they COULDN'T care less about me or English, so I gotta make it fun and silly somehow. Over and out.

Wednesday Sept 10, 2003

Japanese people don't wait in line, nor do they fully grasp the concept of people waiting in line. I hate to make a blanket statement like that, but I have witnessed it enough in all different ages and situations to say it with confidence. Today I was at the post office picking up a letter and there were about 4 people in line. I was second. There were 4 open teller windows. They were full. An old lady walked in and then skipped the line and stood behind a teller who was almost finished. No one said anything. Then the person in front of me moved ahead and I was next. Then another old lady came in and stood in line for maybe 5 seconds then moved behind another teller almost finished.

I was furious by this time. As soon as the teller finished with the man, he looked at me and the lady and me again and said 'next please'. I said "Hai" real loud and stepped in front of the lady, with my arm out almost blocking her. The teller took my order and the lady stepped back, but still didn't get in line. For a second I felt bad, maybe there is an unwritten rule that old people don't have to wait in line, but she wasn't that old, and there were other old people "breaking tradition" and standing in line. Then the teller on the far left said 'next please' and the old lady started over that way, cutting in front of the people in line. A middle aged woman who was next stepped forward and I guess she said "excuse me, we aren't standing here for the fun of it, we are in a line" or something less snippy. Then the old lady looked at the line and acted so surprised "Oh heavens to Betsy, I didn't see the line, I feel so rude and silly, I'm am so sorry, I do declare Mr. Beauregard" or something less Southern (and in Japanese). Then she got in the line.

I was about to flip out at the window. How can you walk in, and not see people standing in line? What do you actually look at when you walk around? Did you drive here? How many people did you run over, or do you even know? It's times like this when I would love to be able to get in someone else's head and look around. Figure out what makes them think they way they do. Like extremist anti-abortionist. I'm not making a stand on whether or not I am for or against abortions, but I would like to know how someone justifies the mentality "We believe killing is wrong, therefore we are going to kill you because you kill other people". I would just like to see what drives people, why they think the way they do. Understanding other's motivations could solve a lot of problems. Everyone is motivated by something no matter how bizarre it might be.

Do you feel you have a right to have an opinion on everything? I don't. There are tons of things I simply don't have an opinion on, and if I do, I realize I am not in a position to announce it. Take for instance abortions, I am a single male. Where do I have a right to tell women what to do with their bodies. Until I get married, I realize I don't have a right to have an opinion. Even then, my opinion only goes so far, it's still not my body. That would make the world go so much smoother as well I think, if people would occasionally say "I don't have an opinion on that".

I say it quite a lot actually. When people are discussing some random topic in the news, like the suicide bombers in the Middle East. They will cite why this happened and who is to blame. I just say, I have no opinion. No one really cares about my opinion on suicide bombers near the Gaza strip, why should I feel entitled to it? Though sometimes I do disagree with people in a very generic way just to get them all riled up. At the beach party some people were talking nerd talk about who would win in a fight between WankerMan and IdiotBoy (I forget who it was really) and whenever someone would make an opinion I would yell, "Oh how can you say that with a straight face". Then I would let them rant and rave about their point for a bit and then generic-ly say "ok, well you keep thinking that". In actuality I would have no idea what they were really talking about, I would just continually disagree with them. It's quite fun. I encourage you to try it.

Today I had my first class at Higashi in nearly 3 months I think. I have a documented list of how many classes I should teach and how many I actually do, and a percentage of them. Around renewing time, I might present it and say I want to renew but this is crap really. I could even say if I don't get my demands I will show this to Kenchou (the school's boss). I would only use it to get fair things like more classes. I'm going to write out all I want around the end of the year and start thinking about what's possible and what's fair then make a nice presentation to them. The good news is it's really a pain to lose a JET and get a new one, so that is in my favor. Plus I will probably renew anyway, but I'm not going to be as forthcoming as last time.

Tomorrow I think I have maybe two classes with the same nice (and cute) teacher. They usually go pretty smooth. It's really nice to have classes since it makes the day go by so much faster. I signed up for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test today, which takes place in December. That will give me a reason to really bust my butt in a structured way studying-wise. I jump around so much that I can't measure my progress. I also ordered the study guides for the test since there is a listening part. My reading is a little slow so I asked a few teachers to write out a paragraph in Japanese, not in Kanji just the simple language, about anything for me to practice reading. If I can get 3 or 4 teachers at each school to do this then that will be some good practice. Maybe I can get some of my Japanese friends to do that as well. I actually thought about buying some children's books to practice reading, but that involved money so I axed the idea.

I haven't mentioned the book I wrote in a few days so.....Are you interested in learning Japanese Verbs and Japanese Adjectives? Why not check out the new book called Learn Japanese Verbs and Adjectives Using Memory Mnemonics http://www.Learn-Japanese-Fast.com . Over 800 triggers for remembering Japanese Adjectives and Japanese Verbs and never forgetting them. Quickly increase your language ability with this book.

Friday Sept 12, 2003

I just returned from the night school. It's getting better there. Today we played some games and the students seemed a little more relaxed around me. But I still feel bad for the kids since they are "out of the loop" which is not a good thing in Japan. There is pretty much no way they will get higher than fast food or garbage man or that level. So it's sad in a way. Some of the students really try and I wonder why there are here. I shouldn't let it get to me, but I do and it makes me sad sometimes.

On a brighter note, there is a party tonight at Neo, a techno club in town. I wasn't going to go but a babe from another town called and asked if I was going, and it's hard to turn that down so I guess I will go. I was planning on not drinking for a while, but that never seems to hold up. Tomorrow is a Jazz Festival in Sendai and tons of people are going, but I'm not sure if I am. If it's out in the street with no cover charge then maybe, but if it is some $50 entry fee, then I can't go. I might go to Sendai anyway to check out printers. I have to buy one for AJET since we need to print out labels for people. Sendai is about the size of Atlanta, maybe a tad smaller.

So I am waiting on the babe to call me from the station. She has no keitai so she'll have to use a pay phone. I'll just sit here and work on the computer until she calls. Or I'll work on my second book. Or I'll take a nap. I could go on like this forever, but I won't. Or I might. Sorry.

[later]

I forgot to mention about the lunchroom. Last week they made a fuss about water so I brought my own cup this week. Then I asked them to pour a little water from the faucet into the cup. Nope, not gonna happen. They can't do it. Big problem. I don't know what the deal is. I wanted to say "Are you kiddin' me ????" in a high pitch voice like my friend Patrick used to do. Wait he didn't make it up, it came from somewhere. Oh yea when Sammy Sosa or Mark McGuire hit their big last one that broke the record, the announcer said it in a real high pitched silly voice. I heard it later on a replay, it was funny. Patrick and I would always say that around the office when we worked together at Stevens Graphics, printing the ever exciting phonebooks for Bellsouth. We would also say "maybe the dingo ate yo' baby", which is from Seinfeld I think. Good times, good times.

I have  got a bad headache. First one I have had in about a year since I started taking High Blood Pressure medicine. It's got me curious, I can usually take a pill and it nips any form of headache I have, but this is still lingering in the background. It's actually bugging me now. I need a good neck massage. So I am still waiting on the call from a certain babe, who is losing babe points for not getting here quicker, and not having a keitai. I'm about to just go out somewhere and no worry about it. I bought ten bottles of carrot juice today, I am going to flush out my system if it kills me. Carrot juice has a strong flushing effect (or affect) on the liver. Mine needs a good flushing (I say as I am about to go drinking). But at least I realize I shouldn't be drinking, that should count for a little I think. I'm leaving.

Saturday, September 13th 2003

I stayed in all day. I didn't even open the window or door. Even more impressive, all I had to eat or drink was 6 bottles of pure carrot juice. I guess I was juice fasting, but I didn't plan it. Don't let anyone tell you carrot juice is NOT a diuretic, because it is. WOW, I have been going to the bathroom about every 20 minutes. But the good news is I read that pure carrot juice and tomato juice are great liver cleansers, and I have been abusing my liver for years. Not so much with alcohol, I am a moderate drinker, but with bad foods. The liver is in charge of so much and is said to always be overburdened. I also read it you drink too much carrot juice you will turn orange. It's true ( I guess), but not from the carotene, it's from all the toxins rushing out of your system. I can be orange for a day or so if I am toxin free.

Actually I can't tell if I am orange or not. I mean there is a slight tint of orange in my skin, but I can't tell if it's real or if I am just imaging it. I mean my arms are red, but maybe that is from the sun or something. Speaking of my arms being red, I am going to have to cave in and get a short sleeve Oxford shirt. I hate wearing them  because I feel like an assistant manager of Wendy's, but they are cool and still nice. I don't think I have ever owned one. Another thing I hate is button up shirts with no button down collars. My mother buys them for me occasionally, and you can't really throw a fit and scream about a free shirt. But I hate walking around and being able to see these airplane wings coming out of my chest. I check the mirror about 50 times, and it's really not all that bad, but mentally I hate it.

Granted it's not that bad, but it feels like it. I mean I don't even have to look hard to see it or bend my neck, I am just walking around and I can see it flapping up and down. The more I look at that jacket, the cooler it looks. I'll add a link to the picture from the place I found it, in case any pimps reading this want to buy it. Well I am tired of typing now, which is really bizarre. I have been typing and doing computer stuff all day though. Could I say computering? Ha, I'm going to start using that as a verb and see if it catches on. I might actually have another thing of carrot juice. No I better not I am getting slightly sleepy and I was up about 5 times last night. I'll have one for breakfast and then I'll eat raw veggies all day tomorrow. I've had a headache all day today and yesterday and I think it is from the brain toxins seeping out. I felt great when I went walking last night (to a bar), so maybe I need more exercise. I only had one beer, and I actually didn't like drinking it. I felt bad, which is awesome, usually my "ok I am absolutely going to do this" goals last about a week, and then my pleasure demon takes over.

OK, a little more typing. I am planning a trip to Nikko in a few weeks. I've already been there, but the new people haven't. I really didn't explore it as much as I wanted, because it was rainy and I was with Greg and Larry. This time we will have all day to explore everything, and I can take 900 more pictures. Then we can eat at the world famous Yakitori place again, which was actually pretty cool. Mainly because a sweet old woman ran it by herself and spoke choppy English. It's famous because Lonely Planet, a travel guide, had a write up about her place. It's not really advertised, we just saw a light and asked if it was a restaurant.

After that we are hoping to go to the Sapporo Yuki Matsuri, which is the insanely cool snow and ice festival. Please take a moment to click the link and check it out, it's really awesome. I'll sit and wait until you have perused the page.

OK, so it was only one picture, but you get the idea. There are about 50 sculptures this size of anything you can imagine. Nope, I found some other pictures and I am going to link to them, because they really show the scale and details of this event.

Ice Festival    Ice Festival    Ice Festival    Ice Festival    Ice Festival    Ice Festival    Ice Festival    Ice Festival    Ice Festival    Ice Festival   

Wow, I am already excited about heading up there. I am going to take a 5 minute break and check into the Youth Hostels in Sapporo. [later] ok that's done. I found a few, but some have stupid curfews around midnight. That's not going to happen, so I gotta find the one that speaks English and has no curfew. It's probably 18 miles away from the action, but we have all night to get back to it. I'm actually glad that strange jacket picture is out of my sight now, it's too far up the page to see while I am typing. It was kinda freaking me out, it looked a little vampire-ish in a weird way, but it's too cool to delete. Plus I'd have to delete about 20 lines of my witty banter and that would be no good. Each time I hit return it gets higher up the page. Well it's 1am and I am going to hit the sack (go to bed). I have a busy day of sitting lined up tomorrow.  

Sunday Sept 14, 2003

My nice little potted plant just fell off my balcony due to strong winds. I am sad now. It had nearly died and I brought it back to life with water, love, and a  lot of CPR. The CPR was just because I was really bored, but apparently the water and sunlight really helped. It started growing and blooming again. So today I woke up around 10am, and the curtains were closed. I heard a rain sound and strong wind so I opened the curtains and saw it was sunny, but windy. I saw the little plant wasn't in the sun so I got some water in a glass and went to water it and then move it. When I came back to the balcony it was gone. I looked over the edge and there it was on the ground, 4 floors down. I was sad.

Monday Sept 15, 2003

Had a busy day. Woke up at 7:30 because I forgot to turn off the stupid alarm on my phone, and I usually get up at 7:30 on Monday. So then I roll back over and sleep until 11:30 or so. I went to sleep really late since I was in computer mode until about 3am. I just wasn't tired, but when I took a break and sat on my bed I quickly fell a sleep, so I guess I was.

Anyway around 1pm I went to the river and we had another cookout. Like the one Corrinn planned back in May or so. It was fun again, and there was much action. First let me explain, there are some motorcycle punks who ride around and around in circles almost revving their engines really loud, plus they have the special carburetors and exhaust pipes that make it louder. So they showed up and were riding up and down the road near the river and all the people. Back and forth and back and forth revving their engines and really annoying everyone. Then it stopped. About 15 minutes later we heard a police car race by. Great someone called the cops and they were after them. So we watched it as it went by and then noticed a lot of people were gathered around the road about 100 yards down the way. We ran down there and found out the punks ran over someone. I don't know if he was trying to stop them or just crossing the road, but he was hurt.

It was the painful kind of hurt too, where he was squirming around on the ground and blood was everywhere and he was trying to get up and people were holding him down. I saw blood around his neck so I don't know if he was hit and flung around or actually run over. Either way, I was sad he was hurt, but very happy it happened. The cops picked up the kids and took them away. They probably won't go to jail but they and their families will be responsible for the medical bills. I hope they get in a lot of trouble. They were taken away and their bikes were still there. I wanted to beat the bikes with a stick or a rock, but too many people were around them.

Then we got back to cooking and grilling. It was so good. Someone opened a beer and gave it to me and I said I didn't want it, which I really didn't. Then it was awkward so I said ok I'll take it, and I drank it. When I did, my liver actually hurt for a bit so I decided officially not to drink for a while. Maybe not until the Halloween party. I don't know how long, but if I can drink more Carrot Juice and keep flushing out my system, and start losing weight, then I might be able to fight my pleasure demon and stop drinking altogether. I really need to stop, because it's so unproductive, but it's also a load of fun. Sitting around drinking and talking and cutting up, or "acting the fool" as old people say. But if it is holding me back from losing the belly, then it's got to go. It will be a steep hill, but I can do it. If I see results, if I don't lose any weight after a few months then I'll start drinking again.

So this guy Koji (Co-G) was there, I knew him through some other people from last year, and he went to the Gyoza night with us recently. At Gyoza night in Iizaka (Ee za kah), he told me he had a friend, who was a little bit heavy set, that wanted to meet foreign guys. So I said ok. So he brings her to the cookout, and there was nothing heavy about her. She was quite cute. Her name was Akiko. There was another cute girl there named Ayako. It was like "Cute English Speaking Cookout Day". I was the only foreigner. Everyone spoke a little English, some spoke a lot. There was a man there named Moraguchi, and I found out later he is the husband of the lady that worked for a certain part time job that I don't have. A person on an Instructor Visa cannot earn income from more than one source. So I of course do not have a part time job, but if I did....you get the picture.

Before the cook out I was working on my various websites and submitting the book website to the search engines. There are so many different companies selling books and things about learning Japanese, I have to constantly submit and resubmit and change my meta tags and find the right combination to get my listing at the top of Google. It's actually on the first page of searches for "Learn Japanese Verbs", but I want it near the top for "Japanese Verbs". That will take more effort. I might even pay for Google Adwords, which are those advertisements on the right side when you search for something, but so many places use Google Adwords. Even Amazon.com uses them when you search for a book, it will say "Other customers were also interested in....." and then it lists several things supplied by Google. Google is the pimp-daddy search engine, and if you are in that, then so many other engines are fed from it. So here's the scoop on the book again, skip it if you have already read it (8 times).

I wrote a book about Japanese verbs and it will be available on Amazon.com shortly. It's currently available online from the publisher, and is being submitted to the other major bookstores. The title is Learn Japanese Verbs and Adjectives using Memory Mnemonics. I attribute that skill of learning to my Mother who constantly taught me odd ways of learning things. I later used it to learn states and capitals as well as geological periods (which I have now forgotten). So if you are slightly interested in learning Japanese and especially Japanese verbs, I encourage you to check it out and buy 6 copies. There are a few website addresses and I will give you both. First is directly from the publisher http://www.trafford.com/robots/03-0788.html and the other is a website I set up to promote it. I'll start promoting it more soon using Google Adwords, which is very popular, but for now, thanks to money, I am using the search engines. The site I set up is http://www.Learn-Japanese-Fast.com . I plan to write about 2 more and I'll put the details up on the site when I do. The second book is another Japanese Language book, the 3rd one is about my time and experiences here, but I plan to be here another 2 years at least so that one is a work in progress. Maybe I'll think of more as I go along. I've got some fragmented ideas, but only those two ideas for other books. If anyone is slightly interested in writing a book, please let me know and I will give you all the details on how to write it and where I published it

I just read on CNN they are expecting a major earthquake in Tokyo this week or next week. That's kinda scary when you are expecting it, but what can you do. We won't get a big shake up here, but we should feel it. I don't know where the epicenter will be, but if it is around Tokyo we should be alright. I'm really not too scared of it because this is Japan, earthquakes always happen. They build things expecting earthquakes, so I'm not worried. Though I do have friends who live high up in Tokyo. Like the 27th floor.

Wednesday Sept 17, 2003

I am so completely and thoroughly confused. I mentioned about my ex-company that I had stock in and I sold it and it shot up. So I tried to forget about it, but I can't so I went to the stocks website and was looking and it said it was still around $10. So then I decided to see when it shot up for .77 cents where I bought it. The website showed it had been around $10 to $20 for a year. IMPOSSIBLE. I checked my stocks and it showed I sold it for .77 cents in April, but all the websites show Interland as being above $5 in April:

It was NEVER at $30. What is going on?  On top of that, the stock place that I buy (bought) shares from had this to say about Interland, the website company in Atlanta I worked for:

OVERVIEW
@

Inland Entertainment Corporation operates in four business segments: (a) Indian Gaming Consulting; (b) Web-site Development services; (c) Internet Gaming Consulting, and (d) Internet Business and Investor Relations Consulting. During the quarter ended September 30, 1999, approximately 77% of the revenue earned was attributable to Indian Gaming Consulting. Unless otherwise specified in this Item 2, "Inland Entertainment Corporation" or the "Company" refers to the Company and its subsidiaries.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME? What the %#&* is Indian Gaming Consulting? Have I entered some alternate dimension where things no longer make sense?  Here is a copy and paste quote from the same online trading place that now says they have a 52 week low of $6.10:

4/17/2003 SELL ORDER POSTING -350.0000 INLD $222.03

So let's do the math here. If Person A sells 350 shares and makes $222.03 how much was each share? Well according to my calculator, which for the record would be in this alternate world with me, said each share is .63 cents. THAT IS LESS THAN $6.10. I am completely going insane. If my clothes were to start talking to me and the walls moving I wouldn't freak out in the least. I have no idea what is going on, but the voices in my head tell me....oh never mind.

[later]

It's weird how things are so different now. Not necessarily good or bad, just different. Last year we would always go out drinking on Friday and/or Saturday, but this year the people are not into that. Which is really better for me, this is the first month in a long time that I will have money before payday. I felt a lot closer to more people last year, but there is a 1st year 2nd year split. We seemed so much more eager to try new things, like the public bath and what not. But again, things are just different.

I'm really getting ticked at my school. I had 1 class today. Just one. It's a total waste of time. I don't want to have the day off, I actually want more classes. I find it a bit insulting when teachers walk past me with tape players of stupid English speakers and say "Sorry we have no time for you today". But I am recording all this and their stats don't look good at all. Around renewing time I am going to give it to them straight out. You have used me %9 of the time, I don't think your boss (kenchou) would like that number very much. I could easily tell them I wanted to move to another school that would use me more, but I like the students and don't want to try that. You think I am being whiny but imagine going to work for 8 hours and doing NOTHING. There are computers but they are so slow you can't use them, and amazingly after you go to certain sites more than a dozen times, those sites seem to "time out". Hmmm. So what do you do? Read for 8 hours? Study Japanese? It all gets old. You could stay at home? But no then they wouldn't be getting their money's worth, but if you are AT the school then they are getting it.

In two weeks I am planning a trip to Nikko. It has the beautiful Toshogu Shrine and is the most photographed place in Japan. I think about 10 people are going with me, it should be fun. We will ride the Shinkansen down there and then the local train. Speaking of which here is a picture of what local trains look like, they remind me of subways that go outdoors (as opposed to underground).

A JR (Japan Railways) train in Tokyo, they look the same in Fukushima.

They get crowded in Tokyo, not so bad in Fukushima.
There are people who shove you on the train in Tokyo.

The Narita Express (N'EX) from Tokyo & Shinjuku to Narita, the airport.

So there's a little picture update. I realized you might not know how trains look here since they are so different from the US. Our trains are like actual trains, whereas these remind me of a subway system. The N'EX trains are super nice inside. And I can't find a picture online of the inside. Oh well, moving on.

Thursday Sept 18, 2003

I saw four WICKED HOT Filipina girls in the station. I would never take them home to meet my Mother, but BOOYA they were fine. I glanced at them and they smiled back. I'm pretty sure I knew why they were in Fukushima, there aren't too many reasons. I looked at them and then looked away. I knew they were expecting me to look back and them and stare, but I didn't for three reasons:

1) They were expecting that, and I hope it drove them crazy for me not to care about looking back. They might have made bets with each other to see how quickly I would look back. Who would win?

2) If I actually looked back I would most likely stare like an idiot. I might even drool some. I wouldn't be able to look away. I'd be locked like a Sparrow who made eye contact with a Cobra. I would be fixated by their powers and start saying stupid things like "we should go out sometime".

3) As I was going up the escalator, I caught a shot of myself in the mirror and realized I am a big dork. I gotta work on that. I need to lose the glasses, doing something better with my hair, and start dressing like a 20 year old rather than a 45 year old. I looked like a Computer Industry Accountant on Vacation in Florida trying to look cool and casual. I didn't.

So I am going to start making a concerted effort to look better. Maybe I will buy one cool shirt or pant(s) each payday. Can I buy a pant? I'd like one pant please. man that sounds stupid. Good ole English. Speaking of which, there is a JET in, actually I don't know where, but she is Irish and her school has told her she must learn to speak with an American accent since the students can't understand her. Man how rough is that? That's awful. I'm American and I am embarrassed. English is not only American, technically they were speaking English in Ireland longer than we were. That's really just pure racism. I don't know how it will turn out, but if I had any control I would fire the whole group of teachers that have said that. They actually gave her American Accent conversion tapes for her to practice at home. No one said the JET Programme was all fun and games, but that is ridiculous. I'm more than willing to send her some deep-South American English. That will teach them a thing or two. I'll keep you updated.

In about an hour I am going out with Hiromi and Hitomi. I can't wait. They are both babes and they are so much fun, and so sweet (and cute). Hiromi is leaving next week for Australia. I am sad, and happy. I hope she comes back speaking fluently, she is really close now, but not confident. I will miss her. Maybe her Post Office-working boyfriend will dump her, which would be sad, but then......well you know. I'll probably pay as a going away treat. Gotta get ready.

Sunday September 21, 2003

Had a pretty busy weekend. There was a party in a small town between here and the coast, called Ryozen. Oddly I knew the guy before this guy, also named Chris, pretty well, but never managed to get out there. There were a lot of people there, more than I expected. It went on all night. Brad was DJing and there were people dancing and drinking. There was a lot of alcohol there, it reminded me of the big blowout house parties we had in college. A lot of people came and I was glad I went. I bought the grill for $20 and cooked out some food. It was fun. A lot of people ate the meat I cooked. Next time I'll be better prepared. I ended up laying down for about 30 minutes at 5 in the morning after the sun came up. A few minutes later BJ came in and said he was heading back so I rode back with him and David, and Katie Beers. That's her name, Katie Beers.

Wow I see the last update was Thursday. I had a blast with Hiromi and Hitomi, and we will hang out again this week I think, before Hiromi leaves on Saturday for Australia for a year. I'm so sad, but maybe her post office boyfriend will break up with her. That's mean, I don't mean that. Yes I do. No I don't. I want her to be happy, but only with me. No, with anyone. Sorry.

Friday after the night school, I went to a party at As Soon As. I was invited by Noriko. I met her at As Soon As about 6 months ago when she went there by mistake to see a DJ who was playing elsewhere. So we hung out a bit after that. She left at 10:30 and I ended up meeting, and getting numbers from about 5 other girls. It was crazy. There is something about that place where I meet people I've wanted to meet in the past. Once I kept seeing this really attractive girl named Hiromi (different girl) at a store in Lumine, but never knew she spoke English. Then I met her at Brad's Christmas party at ASA. We had a great talk and I went to go to the bathroom for a minute and boom someone else was talking to her. Now she and he moved to Tokyo together.

Then went Keiko and I had language exchange we always went to this one coffee shop on the West side. There was a nice, and cute waitress and somehow I told her we were studying English and she said she wanted to learn. So I said I would help her. Then when I went back she was never there. But she was there at As Soon As on Friday. The odd thing is she was just looking at me, so I said hello and we started talking, then we figured out later that we had already met. Crazy. I really like that place, it has a good vibe and it's really smooth. I'll try to get pictures somehow.

At the party Saturday I had a long talk with a few people and I am now considering leaving JET next year to teach privately in Elementary Schools, in the biggest town in Fukushima Prefecture, Koriyama. When it is time to renew I am going to ask for a few changes in my contract, just things that really bug me. If they say no or at least won't budge at all, then I'll check into the elementary school thing. I think it would be awesome to teach Elementary school. The kids are so eager to learn and friendly, whereas the high school students are all concerned with appearance and test scores and not English. I have a good school, I'm just not used enough there. I had 3 whole classes last week when I should have had 3 per day, 9 total. But yet I go there on time and leave on time. If I am there I want to teach. How odd is that?

The Nikko trip is looking good for Saturday. There will be about 17 people going. The number I expected, which is a manageable number. Anything more would be too many and anything less is almost not worth going. Well at least ten people I'd say. So we should have fun. I've already been there so I will show them around as much as I can, though there were a few places I didn't go last time. I hope we can get back to the Yakitori place. That little hole in the wall was great. http://www.yesicanusechopsticks.com/nikko/ if you want to see the pictures from the last time I went. But this time I found a miniature village where they built 1/25 scale reproductions of so many famous places. That should really be cool. I can't wait to see that. I'll keep you posted.

We did have the earthquake that guy predicted, but it was not as big as he thought. Still I am glad there was one since he predicted it, now he won't be laughed at and he can fine tune his readings and predict them down to the hour in the future. Ok, more AJET stuff and then bed.

Monday September 22, 2003

Wow, this is so strange. This is the first day in a long time when I had no classes and just sat in the teacher's room all day. This is so unusual, I don't know what to do. I guess the teachers are just too busy and I can really use the break. And the Burberry teacher just walked by me without wearing Burberry.

Sarcasm. It's all I have really. Without it I am just a dork.

[later]

I went to the grocery store to find an envelope to mail these labels I had to print for AJET. There was a kid about 2 or so crying and then screaming for her mother. There was a child and a lady sitting right beside the kid, who was on one of those ride things that move around or bounce a little, usually in front of grocery stores. I kept looking at the kid to get her to shut up, but she was wailing. I wondered why the mother was ignoring her kid. Then about 5 minutes later this woman comes jogging over and the kid gets quiet. Where the heck were you? Apparently the kid had to go to the bathroom and just dropped her pants and went right there on the ride.

I want to have a baby with a Japanese girl and raise the kid in Japan for the sole reason of showing people a, shall we say, 'different' approach to child rearing. Mothers leave kids unattended, which is safe here, but not so smart. Or they hold them in all sorts of flip floppy ways letting them dangle around. My favorite is how they let the kids run around and scream and be disruptive in public. That would be No-No #1 on my list. A word that doesn't translate well is 'discipline'.

The plus side is Japanese kids are ultra cute. Plus if I had a kid with a J-girl, he/she would be fluent in at least English and Japanese, preferably a third language as well, but I don't speak enough Spanish or anything else to do that. I couldn't imagine being fluent in both English and Japanese from birth, or at least the age when you learn to talk.

Tuesday September 23, 2003

It was a holiday from school so I did pretty much nothing though I still seem to be typing. I went to a festival in local town, but it was lame. Only because we got there too late. When our friend said it starts at 2pm, I interpreted that as "it will last all day and at 2 nothing will be happening, but it will gradually get better". Nope, the cool stuff was from 2-3 and we get there at three, just in time to see about 500 little Elementary school kids "marching" in a parade with instruments. I put marching in quotes because most of them were just rambling around, not even playing, just looking at  the people looking at them. There were adorable though. I wanted to go hug and kiss them, but I'm pretty sure that wouldn't go over so well.

Before that Liz, previously known as Elizabeth, and I had Gyoza and Ramen at a local Gyoza and Ramen shop by the station. It was quite filling. After the festival we didn't want to just quit, we still wanted to do something, but what? So we checked out movie times. We were going to see Tomb Raider 2, but the next show was in 2 hours we 86'ed that idea and had a little KFC although we were both stuffed. Then I came back here, and took a weird nap. It was weird because I just felt like I was going into a coma all at once, but then I just flapped around on the bed never really getting completely to sleep. Finally I felt better and worked on my computer for a bit. I formatted the pages on book number two which is due out in a few months (a few meaning 6 most likely). I just thought of a third one, which would sell like crazy, but I've already made plans to work on it as a Prefectural Project, although no one else seemed too eager to help me so maybe I'll say forget it and work on it myself. If I am going to put in %90 of the effort, then I am not going to split the money with 150 people who did nothing. Maybe I am just being negative. Man it would sell like hot cakes, I'd probably sell 1000-2500 each summer. But I don't want to go into too many details since someone might steal my idea.

Thursday September 25, 2003

I'm so mad at this network at school, BUT I am not going to have a stroke about it. WHY? Because I am reading a book called You Can Be Happy No Matter What, by Richard Carlson - Five Principles for Keeping Life in Perspective. It talks about why people are negative, and I am always negative. When something bad happens I hover on it for days or weeks, like having to pay rent......But this book talks about the reason we are negative is we choose to think about it, just because we get a thought doesn't mean it deserves mental processing time. That's true, I think my own thoughts, so when I start getting angry at something I just think, I can't change this and getting huffy puffy won't do much good, then I actually start to feel better.

The reason I am mad is the stupid network at school, though most likely it's the network admin. Occasionally I will go to different sites and then later those sites are suddenly blocked or better yet, time out. These sites aren't porn or anything objectionable, just programming sites, or sites like that. If I politely complain the sites come back up and then start to time out. Of course there is nothing he can do if the site times out......... So I really can't get anything done at school on my computer that requires being online. The reason this happens is they use what's called a "Proxy Server" which means all internet requests go to this server and it goes out and collects the website and brings it back. That way they can add filters and time outs and what ever to this server so it won't go to certain pages.

But I just put all my AJET stuff off to the side and said "Oh well, nothing I can do about it now, since I can't write a virus to crash this whole network, I might as well just work on this later". I actually do feel ok about it. It's strange.

Speaking of strange, two nights ago I couldn't sleep for some reason and didn't even get in bed until 3 and then I woke up at 7:30 for class yesterday. So all day Wednesday I was half awake and really tired. I even dozed off once in the library and once on the couches. A real awkward doze too since I had my head leaning all the way to one side since I was reading. I just fell asleep and when I woke up I couldn't move my neck for a bit. So anyway, I'm really tired. Then after school I go to the travel agent to see about going to Thailand for winter break. I can only go if she can find a dirt cheap ticket and she did. Like 5 man which is about $400 USD, and it's direct flight, but it's on Air India, which will either be really cool or scary. The stewardesses wear traditional Indian outfits. So I gotta get the 3 other people to confirm yes and we are good to go. I will be paying this entirely with my tax refund, and I'll still have some money left over to spend there. Woo hoo free trip.

Anyway, I go there and then grab some food since I had brunch at school at around 11 and nothing since. So I'd say at about 6 pm I am at home typing on the computer and I feel a little tired so I lie down. I wake up at 1am after having a dream about CC Lemons and something that made sense at the time. But I find myself walking to the CC Lemon machine outside in the sprinkling rain in my shorts, tee shirt, and bare feet. Then I am back in bed. Apparently I was half sleep walking or something. Good thing I wasn't dreaming about punching my neighbor in the face.

So then I go back to sleep and sleep until 8am, even past my alarm. Wow, that was over 12 hours of sleeping, minus the little excursion. I didn't think I was all that tired, but who knows. Speaking of being really tired. Well maybe sick. My supervisor has been out for about a month now, and I thought she was on business trips or something. But recently a teacher said she was really sick. So I emailed her and said I thought she was on business trips and I found out she was sick and I hope she gets better. She wrote back she will not be able to get back to school until late November at the earliest. That will be Sept, Oct, Nov not here? Wow, that is hard core sickness. But I actually think there is something more.

It's hard to explain, but I've noticed little things built into the Japanese Society. For instance, if you say you are sick or not feeling well, people think you should come to work anyway and fight through it, but if you say you "caught a cold" then you are supposed to stay home and recover. It's like an acceptable little rest period built in. I'm not saying she is taking a 3 month vacation, but I suspect the way the Japanese lifestyle goes, is she was overwhelmed by stress and has to recover. I would also suspect this happens every few years and it is acceptable. There have been a few other teachers that have been out for a month or more at a time and I suspect something along the same lines. I don't seem to remember a large number of people being out of work in the US for over a  month, and never 3 months. It was rare if someone was sick for more than a week as best I remember. I wonder if Japanese stress will work for me.....

[3 months later]

I shouldn't make jokes, it could be something super serious. If something happens I am going to come back and erase this whole section of the journal. I actually have a few classes today, like 3 I think. WOW, don't know what to do. Oh here comes the teacher.

[later]

That Happiness book is already making a difference. I was in the ATM booth and a woman was doing her life history in updates so I started making the usual puffing and disgusted noises to hint I was waiting. Then I started to say "Oh come on" in Japanese even and it hit me. Sometimes I do a few different things at ATMs, I wonder if other people get all huffy mad. Me getting mad won't speed her up. If I storm out she won't think about me for a second later. So I let it go. Who cares, I've got no where to be. I'd really rather not go back and sit in the teachers room so take more time. Then she finished and left. It's really tough to keep pushing the negative thoughts away, but I just remember, I control my thoughts. I created that negative thought and I can dismiss it just as easy.

I was afraid it would be one of those fluff books that was written by someone who only practices theories and doesn't really know much about life, but the things in it are really hitting home. They all make sense and are really changing my perspective. I'm really trying to not be a negative person. My negativity is hidden usually. Someone will say they are planning on doing something and I will point out the reasons why it won't work. I feel they are missing some obvious warnings and being careless, but really I am just stealing their energy. Now I just keep quiet, soon I'll be able to dismiss my negative thought and feel happy all the time.

I started a major Google campaign for my book. BUT if you see the ad on Google. DON'T CLICK IT. I'm talking about he ads off to the right, the sponsored ads. If you click it, you will go to my website and it will charge me money, hence causing me to whine more about not having money. So just ignore them and go straight to my website and buy a book. Special deal, buy 1 get the second for the price of two. Just buy one and help me out, I don't get that much money off each book, and I need the money for my second book. http://www.Learn-Japanese-Fast.com.

So tomorrow I have the night school again, which I am going to like, other than it being on Fridays, and then Saturday morning I am organizing a trip to Nikko. Well I've already organized it, but Saturday I am leaving. We are leaving. We are cruising down there and then touring Toshogu shrine all day. I think I've posted it here before, but I have the attention span of cloth so I will again. http://www.yesicanusechopsticks.com/nikko/ . I'll take more pictures and add to the page when I return. Let me take a few minutes and upload some pictures from the party in Ryozen Chris Hemmerlein had recently.

So Tuesday was a holiday and I mentioned I went to some town festival. It was really small, but there was a parade I missed which would have been cooler. Here are some pics of that. Kunimi Festival. There is another cooler festival in that town coming up where shrines smash into each other. They are on wheels and go through the middle of town. So this weekend we have Nikko, and tons of pics, and then next weekend will be the lantern festival again. I'll get some good video this time since the camera didn't do so well last time. I'll charge the battery and take plenty of tapes.

Friday September 26, 2003

I ran some errands since I don't go in until 4pm. I bought some healthy groceries, another flat board for this snap together shelf system I have, mailed a letter, and then paid rent. When I went into pay they started shuffling papers and saying denki, which means light. Last week sometime my light fell from the ceiling and woke me up. It was like 4am and scared me to death. So I go in and I am thinking they are going to charge me for the light, I would have caused the biggest fit if they tried, but I guess they just wanted me to sign the sheet saying it was repaired. But I couldn't sign it, they wanted me to stamp it with my name seal.

This has got to be in the top ten all time stupidest Japanese customs. For important things, well anything really, you don't sign your name, you stamp your name. With a stamp that I could go to any stamp store and say "I'd like to buy a name stamp for my boss, her name is Yamashita". Then they would give me a stamp with her name and I could go around town stamping things. I wonder if there was a legal argument would people ask "Well it's your stamp, it must be you, you must have stamped it". What's to keep me from grabbing someone else's stamp and going crazy? What proof do you have that I stamped this and not someone else? I really have no idea.

So I said I don't have my name stamp, my teacher has it and she is out sick for three months with the flu. Which is partially true. She is out sick, but my name stamp is in my desk. I just didn't want to go to school and get it and bring it back and then take it back to school. So I asked if I could sign it and they somewhat snickered and said "Oh no you need to stamp it........to make it official of course". So we go back and forth and I say I'll bring it in a few months. Then the girl assistant goes and makes 3 calls to people and asks if it is ok if I sign it instead of stamping it. I can hear her say she knows it's a strange request, but I don't have it, then she is on hold and explains it to someone else. No doubt they are having a group meeting on the other end. Finally she comes back and said they said it would be ok THIS time.

So I came back and cooked up my vegetables and rice and ate it. While I was eating I tried to watch a tape of the new HBO flick "Curb Your Enthusiasm", but I can't. It's the second time I tried to watch it and I physically cannot. It's the most awkward show I have ever seen. They could easily EASILY clear up each little comedic moment by saying one little thing, or explaining one little thing, but no they dance around and say oh gosh this is so crazy. Larry David might have created Seinfeld which was hysterical, but Curb Your Enthusiasm is the worst thing I have ever seen. I can't watch it for a minute. I'm going to add it to my list of my own personal hell things.

I'm going to book the Thailand tickets in Monday. I've been reading about cool places and I hope we can see a lot. I think it will be summer when we are there so the beach will be nice and warm. The craziest thing is their currency is crap compared to ours, so I can get a penthouse suite for about $50 a night, and that is pretty high class, most hotel rooms go for about $20-35 a night. You can eat a good meal for less than a half US dollar. Of course tomorrow is Nikko. I still haven't started packing, but I plan to tonight after Chuo-kou the night school. I should get back here about 9 and start packing and then get some good sleep. I want to be nice and rested up before the trip. Although it's not far, it will be a long day of walking and touring. BJ wants to go to Shoya tonight, but I think his timing isn't right. I like to go to Shoya and drink and eat and chat it up all night, but if I went tonight it would only be for about an hour or less and there's really no point in going.

Sunday September 28, 2003

The Nikko trip was an overall success. I took even more pictures but they came out better this time. We actually stuck to my schedule and everything went pretty smooth. We took the shink to Koriyama where the Koriyama people jumped on our car. Then we all got off at Utsunomiya and took the JR Nikko line to Nikko. Then we all hopped in Taxis and went straight to the hotel. We dropped off our bags and went to the shrines.

We managed to zip through the shrines faster than expected and we finished about 2:30 and were hungry. So if we eat now we won't be hungry later and can't go to the famous yakitori place. So we ate at a ramen type place and then headed back to the hotel. BJ managed to show up around 4:30 (standard BJ time). Then we went back to the hotel and checked in. We napped for a bit and then split into smaller groups. BJ and Kevin went to look at a river, which was called an Abyss, but I saw nothing Abyss-like there. We waited a bit then went to the hot springs. We managed to go the wrong way somehow and found an interesting shrine out in the middle of nowhere on the side of a mountain. It was a pin in the butt climbing the mountain and we should have realized it was the wrong way, but every time we though of turning back we'd see something to make us think it was correct. It was not.

But it added to our stress and was ok in the end. We turned back and finally found the place, but it was much further than the "25 minutes" the guy at the hotel suggested, even without the error. The hot spring was so relaxing since it was the perfect temperature, about 40 degrees Celsius. We soaked there for a while then taxied back. Then we got the others and walked to the Yakitori place.

It was empty when we got there and I was so glad. There were 13 of us and we filled the place up. The lady working there is so nice. She's like 50-60, and the waitress, cook, and owner. We ate and drank so much and only owed 1300 each in the end. I think she just makes up a price in the end. When Larry, Greg, and I went in April, she charged us less as well. Then we asked where to buy more beer and she made a call. Little did we know she was waking some merchant up across the street. She walked us over there and knocked on his door. So then we all felt compelled to buy stuff. We went back to the hotel and drank in their dining room until midnight-ish.

Sunday we woke up and had breakfast and then split up. Some people went to a waterfall, which I didn't want to go to because you have to take a bus and it would end up costing $25. I've seen gravity pull water down before. If it was free I would have gone, but I didn't feel like paying that much for it. So then a group of us walked to the station and went to Utsunomiya to eat Gyoza since it is supposed to be the most famous place in Japan for Gyoza, but it wasn't all that great. Then we went to Koriyama and Michelle and I had a meeting with Kris the president of FuJET. We talked about the upcoming ideas and events for FuJET (Fukushima JETs).

Then we hopped on the next shink and booked back up to Fukushima. When I got here Ayako wanted to come over with Emiko and cook me dinner if I would edit one of her papers. I did and they did and it was a grand old time. I am so full from overeating today. I had them record some natural Japanese conversations for me to practice listening later. I had them speak a little slower than normal so I could pick it up. I'll burn it to a CD and practice listening which I hope will help me improve. I really need to restart my journal writing, that was a big help, but I stopped. Partially because I am so busy with AJET stuff, partially because I quit projects too early all the time.

Alright it's 11pm and I am going to get back to AJET stuff and then hit the bed. I have a busy day of no classes tomorrow. I'll get a lot of something completed. I am going to start taking lessons from a local Japanese woman and also have study groups with Liz, David and maybe Emiko. Over and out.

[later]

Have you ever noticed when you lose something you can see it all over the place? I lost my passport and I could "see" it in this basket, but then it wasn't there. Then I could see myself putting it in this drawer, but it's not there. I went around the room and tore it all up looking for it, finally I saw it in a plastic case and it was actually there. I came to realize, somehow I brought my pack-rattedness over to Japan. I have so much crap and I have only been here a year. I am going to bring a box home tomorrow and start mailing stuff back to the US by slow cheap seamail. I have too many clothes, books, souvenirs, and other things that "I might need later".  Sure enough when I throw them away I will suddenly have a need for them.